“Your tower,” she corrects.
“I still want it to be ours. Give me a chance to make you want it, too.”
“I don’t want to end up naked and forget what just happened.”
I hold up my hands. “I won’t touch you until you touch me.”
“If I touch you.”
“There is no if, Emma. We’re good together. That hasn’t changed.”
She exhales a shaky breath. “I’ll go with you, but I’m not promising that I’ll stay.”
Relief washes over me. She’s going to hear me out, and the truth is, Emma’s ability to stay rational under duress is one of the many things I love about her. Sure, she tore up the DNA test and washed it down the ocean drain, but that was a one-off for her. She’s smart. She thinks. She listens. Too bad those traits, most likely, come from all those years of being punished by her father. Which is why I’m trying to make sure her brother doesn’t pull a repeat. “I can live with that,” I say, motioning her forward.
Emma double steps and I wave off Savage, who is hovering nearby. He grimaces, and I tune him out, leading her to an archway, down a private hallway that avoids the guests but still gets us to my tower.
We round a corner, and to my irritation, Brody steps in our path. I forget my vow not to touch Emma until she touches me and I pull her close, under my arm. She doesn’t move away. In fact, she melts into me, and God, it feels good. I don’t want to lose her. I did nothing to hurt her, but rather protect her. I have to make her see that.
“Fancy seeing me here, right?” Brody asks, eyeing Emma. “Hello, Emma.”
“What do you need, Brody?” I demand tightly.
“You. Got a minute, big brother?” he asks.
“No,” I say. “I do not have a minute. Not now.” I crowd him, until he steps aside, and I take Emma with me, walking us a few more feet to the stairs.
Once we’re there, I force myself to let her go. “I know I promised, but Brody—”
“It’s okay,” she says quickly, but she doesn’t look at me, doesn’t speak. I don’t speak either. The tension between us pulls and stretches, a tightrope about to break, and when it does, we crash and burn, if I don’t catch our fall. But I will. I am not letting us crash and burn.
Finally, we reach the tower entrance and are finally about to be alone.
The minute I shove open the door, Emma charges into the upstairs’ foyer ahead of me, obviously ready to blow. I shut the door and lock it, turning to find her on the attack. “What was that?” she demands.
I close half the steps between us, expecting her to back away. Her chin lifts defiantly. She doesn’t retreat. She stands her ground. That tells me she’s ready to hear what I have to say. “Ask me who I thought would do a better job with Knight than Chance.”
“It would be in better hands. Your hands, Emma.”
“I don’t want what is my brother’s, Jax. Why would you think I would do that?”
“Only if he fails the test.”
“What test? What test, Jax?”
I don’t answer that question, not yet. Not until she sees just how completely Chance is keeping her in the dark. “He’s merging with Bennett, or trying to, and giving up the Knight name as well. I predict he gets out completely.”
“I heard you talking to Eric about that. That can’t be right.”
“It is, baby. I’m part of a financial consortium Grayson and Eric run. Your brother applied to join, in order to diversify his personal portfolio, but as an extension of that, he suggested a partnership with Bennett that has now become a merger.”
“I don’t get it. Why would he do that?”
“I don’t know. But he wants an escape from the attention and control.”
“You mean he’s planning to hide under Bennett’s brand?”
“You think my father left him more than he bargained for?” she asks.
“That’s exactly what I think, and I’ll be honest, Emma, when I first went to Eric, we were not a couple. I went with the intent to destroy your brother. I wanted to convince Bennett to back out and then mastermind a hostile takeover. I wanted revenge. I wanted it so badly that I would have connected him to York had I known about York back then and ruined him. But then you happened.”
“Don’t play with me,” she warns. “I heard you say you were setting him up.”
“He plans to come after me. You know I have to be ready. We talked about this.”
“That doesn’t make it okay to take our company. That’s not protecting yourself.”
“Listen to me.” I step toward her and reach for her, only to catch myself before I break my promise and drop my hand. “I talked to Grayson and Eric about a way to protect you and me. If Chance turns out to be dirty, or if he comes after me, that plan ensures that your company is secure but he’s out. You’re in. The merger could work for you. You don’t have to run the entire company, but you would be a key player. And Grayson agreed the brand could stay intact. A Bennett-Knight property would be how they would be listed. If it came to that.”